5 Myths About Tarot Cards

By Heather Haskins

Few things are as misunderstood as Tarot Cards. For all of the negative associations surrounding divination and Tarot Cards in particular, there is little direct connection between these negative ideas and the reality of working with the cards. Dispelling a few myths may prove useful to our examination of the validity of Tarot.

Myth #1 - Tarot Cards are "Evil"

The first, and biggest myth is that they are anti-Christian or "evil." People who believe this tend to believe the cards "work" because they are infused with some sort of dark power. This myth, like all myths, contains a tiny grain of what used to be truth that has been twisted beyond recognition. In reality, it was the Christian church that in the middle ages stamped out Paganism, its chief competitor, by demonizing it and all things associated with it. People were told that their old horned fertility god (think of Pan) was the most evil being in all of creation, and the Devil was invented. Christianity is certainly anti-Pagan, and to the extent that Tarot cards are perceived as Pagan, many Christians feel compelled to condemn or ostracize Tarot cards and Tarot card readers without really understanding why.

Tarot Card readers, on the other hand, have no such beef with Christianity. Most of us don't consider Tarot to be an element of our religion in the first place (though we may consider it of spiritual value) and can't understand what all the drama is about. Some confusion often arises due to the inclusion of a Death card and a Devil card, two hot button items when seen through a religious lens. For now, it is enough to note that the Tarot interpretations of these symbols are not the interpretations that many people are used to.

Myth #2 - Tarot is a Scam

Another powerful myth is that Tarot is some kind of shifty scam, a Three Card Monty of sorts that by definition is a con game designed to use fraud to get people's money. Sadly, there are dishonest hustlers in every profession; doctors, lawyers, contractors, florists, you name it, there are unqualified people posing as qualified professionals charging money for substandard service or services that are never delivered in every industry and field. Tarot is no different, but is no more susceptible to infiltration by dishonest individuals than any other profession or service area. The main argument, it appears, is that Tarot readers may present themselves as something they are not, "psychic," or "fortune tellers," that a skeptic may decide simply can not be "true." At the heart of this issue is the difference between what being psychic means to different people who either claim it or perceive the claims of others. It all depends on your answer to the question, "What does it mean to be psychic?"

Myth #3 - Tarot Cards are Magic

Virtually no one who has any knowledge or experience with Tarot Cards believes that the cards themselves are magic. There is a superstition out there that no one should touch your cards except for yourself, and naturally collectors who spend hundreds of dollars on individual decks are going to hesitate before allowing anyone to handle them (especially since people are inclined to begin shuffling cards once they hold them!). Some people believe that items can pick up and retain energy from different people or situations, and this applies to their Tarot decks as much as anything else. In my experience, most people who harbor any true anxiety about others touching their cards are new to the idea of Tarot, and haven't studied the cards or taken the time to understand what Tarot is about. The example of a person who knows nothing about cars, kicking the tires on the showroom floor comes to mind. Tarot cards aren't magic. They are cardboard.

Myth #4 - Tarot Readers are Witches

The truth is, some are. I've been surprised, however, by how many people still think that witches have some sort of religious connection to "Satan." That isn't true either. Regardless, there is no official religious affiliation for Tarot. Some Tarot readers are Jewish or Christian; others are something else, or nothing at all. In fact, there are many Tarot decks out there that are geared toward one religion or another, combining the symbolism and images of a particular religious tradition with the traditional meanings of Tarot to create something that illuminates both traditions.

Myth #5 - You have to be psychic to read Tarot Cards

Absolutely not! Anyone can read Tarot cards, it's just a matter of memorizing some basic meanings and getting used to the different cards in the deck. Of course, some of us believe that everyone is psychic, but to examine such a notion, we would have to decide what it actually means to be psychic. Suffice it to say, for now, that for some people, Tarot feels as though it serves as a psychic tool.

In conclusion, we can understand what Tarot Cards are much better if we first understand what they are not. They are neither evil nor a scam, they are not magic in and of themselves and you do not have to be a witch or a card carrying "psychic" to read them. If we can establish that much, we are free to examine the beauty and power of this amazing tool.

Heather Haskins is a professional Tarot Card Reader and author. She is the founder of Chicago based Love and Life Tarot. Read more at http://loveandlifetarot.blogspot.com/

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